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LA's SUV-friendly mayor to pose for Prius

August 15, 2009 |  4:00 am


Notch another triumph for Toyota in the wake of GM and Chrysler's financial woes. The Japanese carmaker has enlisted Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and officials from the California Department of Transportation to celebrate the launch of the 2010 Prius.

No matter that the mayor, who vows to make L.A. "the greenest and cleanest big city in America"  has yet to endorse the fuel sipper, which gets 50 miles per gallon, when it comes to his own driving habits.  He is chauffered about in a city-owned 2009 GMC Yukon hybrid, which gets about 20 miles per gallon.

The news release from Toyota publicists avoids mentioning the mayor's preferences. Villaraigosa, it says, will unveil on Tuesday "a first-of-its-kind 'Harmony Floralscape,' a vivid roadside display made up of more than 20,000 live flowers," in the shape of a Prius. Seven such florid billboards, 30 feet by 60 feet each, are to be placed along city freeways, including one at the downtown Alpine Street overpass of the 110 Freeway. Two will be placed along roads in San Francisco.

Rebecca Lee, an account executive with Toyota's public relations firm, GolinHarris, said the automaker would maintain the blooms for four months, after which the California Department of Transportation, working with "GreenRoad Media," a Manhattan Beach firm, would sustain the installation for an unspecified length of time.

-- Margot Roosevelt

Toyota unveils the new Prius to the international media at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan JANUARY 12, 2009 (Mark Bosterl/Los Angeles Times).